Pope Francis goes to Egypt as a “messenger of peace”

Egyptian Coptic Christians protest attacks on Christians and churches, in front of the state television building in Cairo.

April 25, 2017

Pope Francis said he wants his visit to Egypt “to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world” in a video message to the Egyptian people released on Tuesday ahead of his April 28-29 visit to the country.

Pope Francis goes to Egypt as a “messenger of peace”

An altar boy holds a candle during a service at Saint Cyrill Greek Catholic Church, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, April 23, 2017. Pope Francis is scheduled to make a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt this week. (Credit: Amr Nabil/AP.)

ROME — Pope Francis has sent a video message to the people of Egypt ahead of this weekend’s two day visit to the country, saying he hopes his trip “will make a fruitful contribution to interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerable and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.”

On Friday, April 28, the pope will participate in an international peace conference taking place at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which is the most prominent institution in the Sunni world.

Francis will join Pope Tawadros II, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, and Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the worldwide Orthodox Communion (which does not include the Coptic Church), to present a united Christian front at the meeting, which Al-Azhar said was called to encourage “respect instead of rejecting each other, to live in peace instead of fighting, and to tolerate instead of being fanatical.”

On Saturday, April 29, Francis will celebrate Mass for the local Catholic community before flying home to Rome in the late afternoon.

In his video message, released on Tuesday, the pope said he was coming as “a friend, as a messenger of peace, and a pilgrim” to Egypt.

He noted Egypt was  “the land where Patriarchs and Prophets lived, and where God, Benevolent and Merciful, the Almighty and One God, made his voice heard,” and was the place which “gave refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family as they fled the threats of King Herod.

“I would like this visit to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world, in which Egypt holds so important a place,” Francis said. “I would also hope that my visit will make a fruitful contribution to interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerable and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.”

Francis also referenced a spate of violence which has left dozens of people dead over the past weeks in Egypt, including twin bombings at two churches in Tanta and Alexandria, which left at least 45 people dead.

Egyptian police later arrested 13 people who were planning attacks against Christians and public institutions in the country.

“Our world is torn by blind violence, a violence that has also struck the heart of your beloved land,” the pontiff said in his video message.

“Our world needs peace, love and mercy,” Francis continued, “it needs peacemakers, people who are free and who set others free, men and women of courage who can learn from the past in order to build the future, free of every form of prejudice.  Our world needs people who can build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice and humanity.”

Pope Francis will show his solidarity with the victims of anti-Christian violence on Friday, when he and Tawadros will visit the church of Sts. Peter and Paul, which had been bombed during a  Mass in December 2016, leaving 24 people dead and dozens of others injured.

The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, on Monday said that although heavy security is the “new normal,” Francis will not use an armored car during his visit to Egypt.


Taken from: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/04/25/pope-francis-goes-egypt-messenger-peace/


Pope to visit Egypt to meet imam, persecuted Copts

Pope to visit Egypt to meet imam, persecuted Copts

The current pope has made interfaith dialogue and reconciliation a leading theme of his pontificate and has also overseen an improvement in relations with the Orthodox and Protestant wings of christianity.
The Argentine pope has a long-standing invitation to visit Egypt, issued by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he met Francis at the Vatican in 2014.
The pope will meet both the president and the grand imam, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.
It added that “this important visit will contribute to reinforcing the message of peace as well as the spirit of tolerance and humanity’s dialogue between all the religions and the rejection of… terrorism and fanaticism”.
Francis will become the second Roman Catholic pope to visit Egypt, following John Paul II’s historic trip there in February 2000.
Relations were derailed under Benedict after rows over a 2006 speech in which he was seen as having linked Islam to violence and 2011 comments condemning an attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria which Al-Azhar denounced as meddling in Egypt’s affairs.
– Suicide attack –
Nearly 10 percent of Egypt’s 92-million strong population belong to the Coptic community in a country where Sunni Muslims make up the vast majority.
A suicide bomb attack on December 11, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, killed 29 people in the Coptic church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
The church is next to the Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral — the seat of Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II — which Francis will visit during the trip.

President Sisi condemned the attack, calling it cowardly and declared three days of national mourning. The attack was the deadliest targeting the Coptic community since the January 1, 2011 suicide bombing which killed 23 people in Alexandria.Since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the Sinai peninsula has been hit by almost daily jihadist attacks above all aimed at the police and army.
IS called in a December video for attacks on Coptic Christians in Sinai, in particular in the town of El-Arish in the north of the peninsula.
Seven Coptic Christians have been killed since, while dozens of families have fled the region.
The Cairo visit has been carefully organised by French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, an experience diplomat and energetic promoter of dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and Islam.
As head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, he participated in a February 22 joint seminary with Al-Azhar, the first since 2011.
The theme of the seminary was the role of the Al-Azhar mosque and the Vatican in fighting fanaticism, extremism and violence.
Egyptian Coptic Catholic bishops visited the Vatican in February and had extensive discussions with Francis about their community’s concerns.

Taken from: https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/34698864/pope-francis-to-visit-egypt-on-april-28-29-vatican/#page1

Egypt’s Coptic Christians flee Sinai after killings

Image result for coptic christians egypt

Flight of families to Ismailia follows warning of attacks by ISIL and murders targeting community in El Arish.

26 Feb 2017 21:43 GMT

Hundreds of members of Egypt‘s Coptic Christian minority have fled the Sinai Peninsula to Ismailia city, 115km northeast of the capital Cairo, following a series of killings by a local armed group.

The assailants have shot and killed at least seven Christians in separate attacks in Sinai’s El Arish city in February.

At least 90 families have reached the Ismailia governorate, according to an official of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

FAULT LINES: The battle for the Sinai

“The government helped find housing for some families and we rented apartments for the rest,” Father Kyrillos Ibrahim told DPA news agency from Ismailia on Sunday.

Each of the 90 families includes on average five members, according to him.

“It is hard to estimate if there will be more families coming, it depends how bad the situation is. We hope this is a temporary situation,” Ibrahim said.

Arriving scared

Luggage, boxes of food and newly displaced people were arriving throughout Sunday at Ismailia’s main youth hostel where authorities have put up 45 families.

Many rights activists say the displacement is a clear sign the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has failed to provide a minimum of security for Sinai’s Coptic Christians.

The government only agreed to put up the fleeing Christians in government housing in Ismailia after pressure on social media, which they underline as another disturbing sign.

Nabil Shukrallah of Ismailia’s Evangelical Church said the families arrive scared and in need of supplies, which are being stockpiled at the church via donations from several parishes.

They are then transported to be housed in and around the city, in private homes and, now, also accommodation provided by the government.

“They’re exhausted, with urgent needs for food and children’s clothing,” he said, as one father carried off a sick infant to be evacuated by ambulance.

“They’re terrified of the violence and brutality of the terrorists.”

Largely desert, the Sinai Peninsula has seen repeated attacks from armed groups, mainly targeting security forces, since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

ISIL video

The flight from Sinai has intensified after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group released a video last week threatening to carry out attacks against Christians in Egypt.

It described Christians as “infidels” empowering the West against Muslims.

The area’s few Christians had been trickling out but the departures picked up after fighters killed a Christian plumber at home in front of his family on Thursday in El Arish.

At least 90 Coptic families have reached the Ismailia governorate [Ahmed Aboulenein/Reuters]

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. But Egypt’s ISIL affiliate is based in north Sinai and in December carried out a suicide bombing against a Cairo church.

The Cairo church bombing and the recent killings point to a shift in ISIL’s tactics in Egypt, with the group now also attacking Christian targets that are less well protected than military installations.

Before Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising, about 5,000 Christians lived in northern Sinai, but the number has since dwindled to fewer than 1,000, say priests and residents.

Egypt does not keep official statistics on the number of Christians in cities or across the country.


Taken from: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/egypt-coptic-christians-flee-sinai-ismailiya-170226154942356.html

Pope Francis: Jihadist attacks are ‘homicidal madness’

Still from an Islamic State propaganda film.

Pope Francis has condemned as “homicidal madness” recent deadly “fundamentalist-inspired” attacks around the world.

In a speech to the Vatican diplomatic corps, the pontiff called on religious leaders to reaffirm that “one can never kill in God’s name”.
He also warned that poverty served as fertile ground for radicalisation.
Scores of people died in jihadist attacks in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas in 2016.
“We are dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power,” the 80-year-old Argentine pontiff said on Monday.
“Hence I appeal to all religious authorities to join in reaffirming unequivocally that one can never kill in God’s name.
“Fundamentalist terrorism is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty, and often is linked to significant social poverty,” the Pope said. “It can only be fully defeated with the joint contribution of religious and political leaders.”
Israeli security forces and medics gather at the site of a ramming attack in Jerusalem on January 8, 2017Image copyright AFP
Image caption On Sunday, a man drove a lorry on a group of Israeli soldiers in Israel, killing four people
Scene of attack in Berlin, Germany. Photo: 20 December 2016Image copyright AP
Image caption In a similar attack on 19 December, 12 people were killed when a lorry smashed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin
In July, months after deadly assaults in France and Belgium, Pope Francis warned that jihadist attacks in Europe was proof that “the world is at war”.
However, he stressed he did not mean a war of religions, but rather a conflict over “interests, money, resources”.
In a wide-ranging speech on Monday, Pope Francis also said that:
  • North Korea’s threats to test ballistic missiles were “particular disturbing” and could spark a “new nuclear arms race”
  • Europe was at a “decisive moment” in its history, and the “idea of Europe” should be based on a new humanism
  • Stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians should resume
  • International efforts to foster peace in a number of conflict-torn African countries must be intensified
  • Environment must be protected, backing a global deal clinched in Paris in 2015
Taken from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38560416

This isn’t racist, Islamophobia or cruel. It’s commonsense

Warren Mundine is chair of the Prime Minister’s indigenous Advisory Council and a former ALP national president. (Pic: News Corp)
Donald Trump’s victory demonstrates the media and commentariat are disconnected from voters. Almost without exception they failed to anticipate the presidential election outcome — and had little influence on it. Their message that Trump was unfit for presidency largely ignored.
Australia’s political media and commentariat are also out of touch. Listening to them you’d think Australians are preoccupied with gay marriage, offshore detention, carbon emissions and identity politics. Most are preoccupied with their families, their homes, their jobs, the monthly bills and their kids’ education and job prospects.
They care about the economy and national debt. They want to live in a safe society where Australia’s way of life is valued and respected.
There’s a growing disconnect between the views expressed by the media and commentariat and those of many Australians, with commonsense often dismissed as extreme, ill-informed, even bigoted. Here are some examples.
Our biggest education challenge is performance declining against global benchmarks. Demanding more education funding as the solution is misconceived. It’s been happening despite substantial education funding increases. Something’s wrong. Australian schools should be the best in the world, not 28th behind Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, the education issue dominating political news has been the Safe Schools controversy. It’s understandable why parents are concerned. Some content in Safe Schools and other school programs, frankly, beggars belief.
Teachers shouldn’t be schooling children in gender fluidity or asking them to imagine or role-play different sexual orientations, or teaching them about exotic sex acts, or criticising “heteronormativity”.
Governments should shut this nonsense down and focus on improving academic performance.
That’s not homophobic. It’s commonsense.
The world has more than 60 million refugees, around three times Australia’s population, with many others desperate to move to Western nations for economic opportunity.
Allowing people to stay in Australia if they make it to our shores Hunger-Games style (or acquiescing when they do) is cruel and irresponsible.
During the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era more than 1000 people drowned and detainee numbers skyrocketed from less than 500 to more than 10,000.
Refusing to settle asylum seekers in Australia who arrive by boat is tough and unrelenting but it saves lives.
Nations must uphold their borders to maintain their sovereignty, potentially their survival. My ancestors learned this the hard way. Border security isn’t racist or an embarrassment. It’s commonsense.
Australians have a strong record of embracing immigrants in their communities and in their families, and most immigrants embrace Australia and our way of life.
But at the moment Australians are seeing something we’ve rarely seen before.
A small minority of Muslim migrants and/or their descendants reject our way of life and instead want us to embrace aspects of theirs which go against our laws, customs and culture — women covering their faces, refusing to stand in court, Sharia law regulating divorces, polygamy and even forced child “marriages”.
A smaller minority support terrorist causes and are plotting to kill us. That’s not acceptable to most Australians, including most Arab and Muslim Australians. Yes, it’s only a tiny minority but their attitudes and actions are divisive and dangerous and must be acknowledged and confronted.
Every Australian should treat others with decency, follow our laws and institutions. This isn’t racist or Islamophobic. It’s commonsense.
President-elect Donald Trump. They didn’t think he could do it. Oh, how wrong they were. (Pic: Scott Olson/Getty/AFP)
People of all societies through the ages were expected to contribute. Families and charities supported those who couldn’t. Modern Western governments introduced welfare to help people on hard times get back on their feet, not provide an optional life pathway. Governments shouldn’t pay people who refuse to work. If there are jobs picking fruit, selling hamburgers, labouring or cleaning, unemployed people should do them or lose benefits.
I hope the federal government’s welfare reform plans go beyond tough talk and become tough action. Making people take available work isn’t cruel. Sit-down money is cruel. Welfare reform is commonsense.
Politicians who articulate these kinds of opinions are often branded heartless and bigoted by the progressive/Left, cheered on by prominent members of the political media and commentariat.
It’s rare to hear centrist politicians speak as bluntly as I just have. Centrist Labor tends to pander to the progressive/Left. Centrist Liberals tiptoe. In doing so they leave a vacuum for extremists and populists.
Trump, Brexit and One Nation’s resurgence deliver two key lessons.
First, politicians who speak directly to voters about what voters care about can prevail, regardless of the media and commentariat.
Second, if centrists are unwilling or afraid to embrace commonsense views, voters will turn to extremists and populists, however offensive.
The first centrist politician who embraces commonsense with plain-speaking, ignoring the political class and dealing honestly and firmly with issues Australians care about, will dominate the ballot box.
Warren Mundine is chair of the Prime Minister’s indigenous Advisory Council and a former ALP national president

Taken from: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/this-isnt-racist-islamophobia-or-cruel-its-commonsense/news-story/31f2cf932163b4e90974f459f077462f

Mohammed and Nineveh


Nineveh Repents 


Damien F. Mackey



Nineveh, which was destroyed by the Medes in c. 612 BC, and not re-discovered until the C19th AD – Before that, Nineveh, unlike the clearly visible remains of other well-known sites such as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, was invisible, hidden beneath unexplored mounds”strangely figures in the biography of the Prophet Mohammed of, allegedly, the C7th AD.



The true story of the ancient city of Nineveh goes something like, as according to this article (http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/june-2011/article/saving-ancient-nineveh):


Saving Ancient Nineveh


By Dan McLerran   Mon, Aug 22, 2011


For a time, about 2,700 years ago, the ancient city of Nineveh ruled the Middle East. Today, it is among the world’s most endangered archaeological sites, in need of an urgent rescue plan.

After 2,700 years, the walls and gates of ancient Nineveh can still be seen near the banks of the Tigris river just opposite the modern city of Mosul in Iraq. In ancient times, it was the capital of the great Assyrian empire, a city of more than 100,000 people, and it was a subject of a supreme being’s attention throughout the books of the Old and New Testaments in the biblical account.  “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Ammittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.”[1]  The prophet Jonah’s efforts there were rewarded.  Nineveh, at least for a time, was saved from destruction.  But the city of Nineveh today will require a different kind of saving. There are comparatively few people living there now.  It features mostly ruins.  Even the ruins, however, will disappear unless, according to the Global Heritage Network’s early warning system, urgent steps are taken to arrest the elements that endanger it and to restore and protect what is left.

Not an easy thing to do these days in a war-torn country.  War has distracted and preoccupied the energies of a people who otherwise could be identifying and procuring the necessary resources needed to save and protect the city.

But long before war, it has been plagued by looting and vandalism.  Artifacts have appeared on international markets for sale, reliefs have been marred by vandalism, and chamber floors have seen holes dug into them by looters hoping to find anything that will yield cash for their needs.  The expanding suburbs of adjacent Mosul, too, threaten it with encroachment, with sewer and water lines having already been dug and new settlements already established within the area once occupied by the ancient city.

Even without looting, vandalism and suburban encroachment, however, Nineveh will crumble and succumb to the natural elements.  Reports the Global Heritage Fund (GHF)*, a non-profit organization that specializes in saving and restoring archaeological sites,  “without proper roofing for protection, Nineveh’s ancient walls and reliefs are becoming more and more damaged by natural elements every day. Exploration of the city is an important objective at this time, but preservation measures would go a long way as well”.[2]

Historically, the site of ancient Nineveh, which consists of two large mounds, Kouyunjik and Nabī Yūnus (“Prophet Jonah“), has been the subject of numerous excavations and exploratory expeditions since the mid-19th century. Beginning with French Consul General at Mosul, Paul-Émile Botta in 1842, and most notably through the excavations of famous British archaeologist Austen Henry Layard …. and many others thereafter, the remains of Nineveh became one of the sensational archaeological revelations of modern times. Before that, Nineveh, unlike the clearly visible remains of other well-known sites such as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, was invisible, hidden beneath unexplored mounds. Even historical knowledge of the Assyrian Empire and its capital city was sparse in the beginning, changed primarily by the great archaeological discoveries that followed Botta’s initial attempts. One palace after another was discovered, including the lost palace of Sennacherib with its 71 rooms and enormous bas-reliefs, the palace and library of Ashurbanipal, which included 22,000 cuneiform tablets. Fragments of prisms were discovered, recording the annals of Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal, including one almost complete prism of Esarhaddon. Massive gates and mudbrick ramparts and walls were unearthed. The walls encompassed an area within a 12-kilometer circumference. Many unburied skeletons were found, evidencing violent deaths and attesting to the final battle and siege of Nineveh that destroyed the city and soon brought an end to the Assyrian Empire.

[End of quote]


Yet we have found in the course of this series, and in the related “Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh” (Heraclius supposedly having been a contemporary of Mohammed’s), that it is as if Mohammed had lived during the time of the powerful C8th BC neo-Assyrian kings. This would be in favour of my view that much of the life of the Prophet Mohammed was based on Tobias, son of Tobit, which family did actually live in ancient Nineveh:


Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage




The prophet Jonah, who had predicted the actual destruction of ancient Nineveh, and who was contemporaneously known to Tobit and Tobias (Tobit 14:4; cf. 14:8): ‘Go to Media, my son, for I fully believe what Jonah the prophet said about Nineveh, that it will be overthrown’, is incongruous as the “brother” of Mohammed, as the latter is supposed to have said of Jonah when speaking to a Christian slave supposedly from the town of Nineveh.

To make matters even worse, the Quran has those converted by Jonah as being Jonah’s own people (http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/jonah.html):


The Quran and the Islamic traditions agree on Jonah being sent to Nineveh:


If only there had been a single township (among those We warned), which believed,- so its faith should have profited it,- except the People of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the Chastisement of Ignominy in the life of the present, and permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while. S. 10:98

And remember Zunnün, when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness, “There is no god but Thou: glory to Thee: I was indeed wrong!” So We listened to him: and delivered him from distress: and thus do We deliver those who have faith. S. 21:87-88

So also was Jonah among those sent (by Us). When he ran away (like a slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was of the rebutted: Then the big Fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified Allah, He would certainly have remained inside the Fish till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore in a state of sickness, And We caused to grow, over him, a spreading plant of the gourd kind. And We sent him (on a mission) to a hundred thousand (men) or more. And they believed; so We permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while. S. 37:139-148

Here is Ibn Kathir on S. 10:98:


“… The point is that between Musa and Yunus, there was no nation in its entirety that believed except the people of Yunus, the people of Naynawa (Nineveh). And they only believed because they feared that the torment from which their Messenger warned them, might strike them. They actually witnessed its signs. So they cried to Allah and asked for help. They engaged in humility in invoking Him. They brought their children and cattle and asked Allah to lift the torment from which their Prophet had warned them. As a result, Allah sent down His mercy and removed the scourge from them and gave them respite.


… In interpreting this Ayah, Qatadah said: ‘No town has denied the truth and then believed when they saw the scourge, and then their belief benefited them, with the exception of the people of Yunus. When they lost their prophet and they thought that the scourge was close upon them, Allah sent through their hearts the desire to repent. So they wore woolen fabrics and they separated each animal from its offspring. They then cried out to Allah for forty nights. When Allah saw the truth in their hearts and that they were sincere in their repentance and regrets, He removed the scourge from them.’ Qatadah said: ‘It is mentioned that the people of Yunus were in Naynawa, the land of Mosul.’ This was also reported from Ibn Mas’ud, Mujahid, Sai’d bin Jubayr and others from the Salaf.” ….

Scholar Suggests Mohammed’s ‘Uncle’ may be the biblical Omri

King Ahab



Damien F. Mackey


Further possible confirmation that the Prophet Mohammed, a non-historical character, is a biblical composite.


The biography of the Prophet Mohammed has borrowed so many of its bits and pieces from the Bible (Old and New Testaments) that it is no wonder that Mohammed has been portrayed as a most remarkable kind of man (verging on a superman), having such a breathtaking career.

The real miracle is that scholars down through the ages have been able to compile a coherent life of the man. The downside of it is – apart from religious implications – that it is historically a complete shambles. Better to view the whole thing as a marvellous work of fiction. Now, a Turkish writer, Ercan Celik, believes that he has traced the so-called “uncle” of Mohammed, to the biblical king Omri of Israel (https://iqsaweb.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/celik_abu-lahab-jezebel/):


Who were Abu Lahab and His Wife? A View from the Hebrew Bible


Ercan Celik*


In The Qur’an and Its Biblical Subtext, G. S. Reynolds observes that

…scholars of the Qur’an accept the basic premise of the medieval Islamic sources that the Qur’an is to be explained in light of the life of the Prophet Muhammad…

However, he proposes that critical Qur’anic scholarship not depend on prophetic biography (sīrah) or traditional Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr), but rather,

the Qur’an should be appreciated in light of its conversation with earlier literature, in particular Biblical literature…This argument necessarily involves an examination of both the relationship of Muslim exegetical literature to the Qur’an and the relationship of the Qur’an to Biblical literature.


Sūrat al-Masad (Q 111) offers a valuable example for how a Biblical perspective can augment our understanding of the Qur’anic text. The text of the sūrah names its main character Abu Lahab, and mentions that he has a wife, but does not provide any further identifying information. Only extra-Qur’anic literature can give us more details about who he was. In this blog post, I compare how he may be identified through the Islamic literary sources and through the Hebrew Bible.


Abu Lahab In Islamic Literature

Abu Lahab, meaning “the father of flame,” is identified as the uncle of the prophet Muhammad, ʿAbd al-ʿUzza ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, nicknamed Abu Lahab on account of his reddish complexion. He is said to have been a rich and proud man, and he and his wife Umm Jamil, sister of Abu Sufyan, are depicted as fierce enemies of Muhammad and the early Muslim community. There are many anecdotes in the Islamic literary sources about their verbal and physical attacks on the prophet. Some Qur’an commentators say that Umm Jamil used to litter Muhammad’s path with harmful thorns of twisted palm leaf fibres, and that this is the historical context for the final verse of Sūrat al-Masad: “Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre” (Q 111:5).


Abu’l-Ahab in Biblical Literature

In searching the Hebrew Bible for a wicked man whose name resembles Abu Lahab, one finds Ahab (Hebrew: אַחְאָב), the seventh kings of ancient Israel (r. ca. 885-874 BCE), son of King Omri and husband of Jezebel of Sidon. We could read “Abu Lahab” alternatively, and without substantial change, as “Abu’l-Ahab,” father of Ahab. According to the Hebrew Bible, the father of Ahab is Omri, who is described in 1 Kings 16:25 as having acted “more wickedly than all who were before him.” His son Ahab, in his own time, “married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him . . . Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:31-33).


Frederic Leighton, “Jezebel and Ahab,” ca. 1863, Scarborough Art Gallery; image from Wikimedia Commons.


As for Jezebel, it is said that she ordered the killing of prophets (1 Kings 18:4). The prophet Elijah escaped her persecution and with God’s command confronted Ahab with a challenge to the priests of Baal: “You call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God” (18:24). The supporters of Baal called upon their god to send fire to consume their sacrifice, but nothing happened. When Elijah called upon the name of the Lord, fire came down from heaven immediately and consumed their offering.

Eventually Ahab in killed in battle, and when Elisha, successor to the prophet Elijah, anoints Jehu king of Israel, the latter had the house of Ahab killed. Jezebel was captured by her enemies, thrown out of a window, trampled by a horse, and her flesh eaten by dogs.


A Comparison of the Qur’anic and Biblical Characters


There are some significant parallels between the qur’anic character of Abu Lahab and the biblical character of Abu’l-Ahab. To illustrate these, let us evaluate Sūrat al-Masad in light of the biblical account:


  • May the hands of Abu Lahab [Abu’l-Ahab] be ruined and ruined is he. The biblical story of Ahab fits well with this verse, in both linguistic and narrative/thematic terms. The father is invoked for ruin. Omri was the first person to introduce the worship of Baal in Israel, for which his progeny are to be ruined. In Qur’anic Arabic terminology, hands (here, yadā) are symbolic of power and of progeny. The fate of Omri’s progeny is pronounced not so much in the tafsir literature as in the biblical texts.
  • His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. The Ahab of the Bible seems to have had greater wealth than the Abu Lahab of Islamic tradition; his great wealth failed to prevent his demise by God’s command.
  • He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame. Hellfire is an eschatalogical concept associated with unbelief, especially with the sort of idolatry instituted by Omri and Ahab.
  • And his wife [as well]—the carrier of firewood. The feature of firewood (ḥaṭab) is key. The challenge at Mount Carmel consisted of sacrificing bulls on firewood in order. We can imagine Jezebel supporting the Baalist priests by collecting the best woods to burn the sacrifice easily. The image of Jezebel carrying firewood makes more sense of this verse than that of Umm Jamil dumping thorns.
  • Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber. Traditional exegetes struggle to explain the meaning of the rope of palm-fiber (masad). It may be better understood in light of the Jezebel story. The term masad appears to be a hapax legomenon in the Qur’an that might have a Hebrew root and be related to Jezebel’s violent death. This term begs for further examination along these lines.